Textbooks have evolved over the years, but one thing that has not changed is the size of the book. In fact, textbooks continue to grow in size by the day. Course books are notoriously bulky with most of them packing 3-5 pounds. Most calculus books are 5 pounds— no wonder people hate math.

However, despite their bulkiness, books are an essential part of our lives. It may be in school or at work. We love to peruse a book for knowledge. Carrying a 3-pound course book will give you an academic angle, but there is a better way of getting that. Mastering the content of the book will provide you with a better perspective on life.

Fortunately, technology is changing how we access books. The need for technology-savvy ways of obtaining knowledge is ubiquitous. That is where e-books, also known as e-textbooks, come in to play. However, e-textbooks are used exclusively for academic purposes. E-books are generally all books rendered in digital versions.

What is an e-textbook?

An e-textbook is an electronic version of a published academic book. In the formative years, e-textbooks were scanned copies of printed textbooks. Today, they come with more features such as reflowable texts and interactive media. Some publishers are producing e-textbooks exclusively, which means there are no printed versions of the books.

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People who want to read while on the go are finding e-books very convenient. Students can read anytime and anywhere. They don’t have to pack their coursework books when traveling. The publisher makes it available for download or through an app. Because of the easy shareability, most authors make it difficult to download the books. They only allow access in non-sharable versions such as EPUB, in what is called Digital Rights Management (DRM).

Some e-textbooks are available as open source, which means you can share them as you wish. Most of them are in PDF format. E-textbooks are still under copyright laws. If you infringe on the publisher’s rights, you can be sued. Schools libraries can buy access to course books for students.

Most schools have digital libraries and repositories where you can access e-textbooks. Some publishers only give access to a limited number of consecutive users, while others just rent out for some time.

Where do I get the e-textbook?

There are various online bookstores available in the market. One of them is Booksrun. Other bookstores such as Amazon, iBook, Google Books, Chegg, Textbooks.com, VitalSource, and others provide access to schools textbooks, too. Some authors have their websites where you can access the textbooks.

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However, online book repositories carry books from major publishers across the world. They host a wide range of books from all sectors from academic books to fiction.

Most electronic versions of textbooks are available from school libraries. You have two options—buy or rent the e-textbook. If you rent, you can only use it for the rented period. Once the period expires, you will not access the book. If you buy, you can keep the book in your online collections forever.

What devices can I use to access e-textbooks?

E-textbooks are digitally accessed books. The owner makes them available for downloads so that you can use them from the comfort of your reading area. Once you download, you don’t need the internet.

You can use these devices to read your e-textbooks.

  • Dedicated e-reading devices
  • Laptop
  • Desktop
  • Smartphone
  • Tablets

Various platforms that you can use to access the books exist, but most of them are managed via DRM software.

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What are the advantages of e-textbooks?

  • Lower price point—compared to print books, e-books are slightly cheaper.
  • Ease of access across devices—you can access them across all your devices. However, some publishers only allow a limited number of devices.
  • Portability—you can carry very many books on one device. However, there is a limit to how many books you can carry on your digital storage device such as a smartphone.
  • Always on stock—they never run out of stock because they are digital assets.
  • Digital capability such as social media and text reading—they pack many things including text interactions, notes, print, and annotate.
  • There is no wear and tear—the book stays new, and publishers can make corrections, updates, or interactions to the book.
  • Ecofriendly—no printing or ink is required, which means it helps conserve the environment.

There are a few disadvantages though to the e-textbooks, too.

  • Some expire – if you replace your device, you may not be able to access it, as the new device will require access.
  • You cannot resell – unlike hardcopy books that have a resale value, you cannot sell or distribute a copyright-protected electronic book.
  • Screen fatigue – some people report screen fatigue when reading, which is not the case with printed textbooks.


E-textbooks are the future of reading. Technology is making it possible for publishers to remove virtually all drawbacks. Today, you can access almost any book online. Knowledge beckons you at the touch of a button; you had better take it before it is too late.

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